Running a rental application for a potential tenant and deciding whether or not to accept them as tenants can be a daunting task. Many unknowns and what-ifs can enter the minds of private landlords as they put their investment in the hands of strangers. Are they qualified enough? Are we sure we can trust them to pay rent each month? Is their employment stable? What if they lose their job and can’t pay the rent? These are just a few of the unknown questions that the experts at Orlando property management firm, Specialized Property Management, have heard from landlords and clients. They are all valid questions. The truth is, even the most qualified tenants who have excellent credit, verified trusted rental history, and stable employment can run into trouble. That is why Specialized Property Management in Orlando has rigorous screening methods coupled with an Eviction Protection Program. Keep reading to learn how we protect our clients from evictions.
Protecting yourself as a landlord against a possible eviction starts back at the tenant screening process. It is imperative that a landlord or property manager has strict tenant screening guidelines in place prior to accepting applications. Having these guidelines in place will prevent a desperate landlord or property manager from filling a vacancy with an unqualified tenant. It is better to have a property vacant than to have it occupied with a tenant who does not belong there because they are not financially qualified. Accepting an applicant who does not qualify for tenancy is an easy way to end up with an eviction on your hands. Below is a list of items that Orlando property management firms expect from applicants:
- Applications: Require that all applicants who are at least 18 years old and older apply for housing by submitting an Application to Rent. To find an example of a basic rental application in the state of Florida, visit Eforms. The application gives the landlord information about where the applicant currently lives, where they have lived in the past, where they work, where they have worked in the past, financial obligations, the number of vehicles they plan to park on the premises, and permission to run a credit check.
- Security Deposits: Requiring a security deposit is basically an official term of saying “put your money where your mouth is.” Landlords and property management firms vary on the amount that they require for a security deposit. However, it should be significant enough that once the tenant has paid the deposit, they will not back out and go find a different rental property that they like better. It should also be sufficient to cover damages to the property upon move out. The larger or nicer the property is, the more expensive the security deposit. Landlords and Orlando property management companies can run specials or discounted security deposits if they are struggling to gain interest in a rental property.
- Credit and Background Checks: A credit score has the ability to give valuable insight to landlords and companies that specialize in property management in Orlando. A credit check will let landlords know if the tenant is current in paying bills and if they pay in full each month. As a general rule of thumb, Rent Prep recommends not accepting tenants who have a credit score lower than 649, as it could raise some red flags. Property management teams will usually not rent to applicants who have outstanding balances that they owe to utility companies, previous property management companies, or landlords. Many property management companies do make exceptions for outstanding balances for medical care and student loans. It is also important to conduct background checks on applicants to know who is hoping to live in your property and determine if they have a criminal history and, if they do, if the crime(s) listed on the background check are acceptable to the homeowner. Landlords should charge an Application Fee, just like Orlando property management companies do, to cover the amount of the credit and background checks, as well as cover the time spent by the landlord processing the application. Application Fees generally cost about $65.
- Rental History: Equally as important as a credit check is a rental history check. A current or previous landlord or property manager can give information to a potential landlord informing them if the applicant pays rent on time and in full each month. They can also provide information letting the new landlord know if the tenant cares for the property and is in compliance with the lease agreement rules. Call or email for a rental history inquiry. An official property management in Orlando company will likely want to see a signed and dated application from the prospective tenant via scanned and emailed or faxed. This gives property management companies permission to share rental history verification.
- Employment History: A tenant needs to have income in order to pay the rent. It is important to outline a rent to income ratio. A common ratio adopted by Orlando property management teams is 1:3. That means you must make 3 times the rent amount in order to qualify. Income should be based on the gross salary. Therefore, if rent is $1,450, the gross household income of the tenants must equal $4,350. Add up all of the applicants’ gross income to see if they qualify. Having a rent to income ratio helps guarantee that the tenant makes sufficient income in order to afford the rent amount each month, and pay for life necessities. Contact the current employer to verify that the applicant does indeed work there and that the pay stubs or offer letter are official.
Legal Reasons to Evict a Tenant in Orlando Property Management
When evicting a tenant, it is difficult to not take it personally or get emotional about an eviction. Remember that this is a business that you are running, not a charity. If a tenant cannot pay, they cannot stay. It is also important to remember that a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant just because they do not like them. Below is a list of reasons that a landlord or Orlando property management company can legally file an unlawful detainer:
- Failure to pay rent, the most common reason for an eviction
- Lease violation, including pets on the premises when not permitted per the lease agreement, unauthorized occupants, subletting the premises, improper use of the property, or nuisance complaints. Property managers may first attempt to address and fix the lease violation with the tenant through written requests. If the problem persists, then an eviction may follow.
- Property damage.
- Illegal or drug-related activity, including smoking illegal substances or dealing drugs.
- Expiration of the lease, meaning a property manager has properly given a tenant a move out date, and they continue to live there without payment of rent. A common term for this type of tenant is a Squatter.
As of 2016, Eviction Lab reports that the eviction rate was 2.34 with more than 38 million renter-occupied households. This means that just over 898,000 renter-occupied households were evicted in 2016.
Eviction Protection Program
At Specialized Property Management, we know that legal fees are not cheap and an eviction can take months to finish processing, leaving rental homeowners with a huge loss in income and expensive court fees. Orlando property management teams also know that even with rigorous tenant screening, unfortunate events happen and a residency can end in a necessary eviction. If an eviction is not completed in full compliance with the law, there can also be expensive penalties to pay. That is why we offer clients the opportunity to enroll in our Eviction Protection Program. Any tenant that is placed by us, will be covered under your Eviction Protection Program. This means that if an eviction occurs, we will cover the following fees:
- Filing fees
- Legal Fees
- Court costs for unlawful detainer actions
While this program does not cover Writ of Possession or Set Out Costs, it significantly reduces a client’s financial risk while increasing their peace of mind. With more than 30 years of experience in the Orlando property management industry, it is our goal to protect our clients and no one does it better than us.
Why Property Investors Need Specialized Property Management
Whether you have one rental house or multiple rentals, Specialized Property Management in Orlando is equipped to get the job done. We handle everything regarding property management from leasing, turnover, move-ins, lease signings, rent collections, maintenance, inspections, and yes, the unlikely but also possible eviction. Protect yourself and let the professional staff at Specialized Property Management in Orlando deal with the daily hassles of property management. We can guarantee that if you are dealing with an eviction, our professional staff and legal counsel will guide you and ensure it is done in compliance with the laws. Call us today let us take away the stress of managing a rental property as a private landlord.